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Thursday, 18 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I desire to pursue this- subject a little further in order to see whether, with the assistance of Senator Russell, t. cannot fairly accurately state the position, of wire and the surrounding manufactures by reason of the -Tariff as agreed to so far. ' There are four . items in the schedule revolving around the question we are now discussing. Last night we .agreed, after considerable debate, to a reduced duty of 44s. per ton on fencing wire upto' No. 16 gauge, and., a reduced ad valorem Tate of 20 per cent, on wires of finer gauge.. I am alluding to the British preferential Tariff. It . was ' rightly pointed out by Senator Lynch, in giving reasons- for a reduction .of the duty proposed, that, in effect, a 20 per cent, adf valorem rate would vary from .£5 .to perhaps £12 a ton on {-he, finer gauges of. wire. . However, the Committee agreed to the reduced rates I have mentioned, The . next item in connexion with wire we have agreed to is barbed wire, which, I take it, is manufactured from wire up ' to No. Iff gauge, upon which we -have fixed a. duty of- 44s. per ton.. We have agreed to a rate of 5.0s., on barbed wire coming from Great Britain,, and. there. , is, a difference of only 6s... between the duty on the completed article and .that .'on the drawn wire from- which, it is made. Now we have the item wire .netting before us, and the duty attaching to it .. is- 68s. per ton. Following is another item: providinga duty of 52s.per ton for "Wire, iron and steel, for useinthe manufacture of . barbed wire and' wire netting, , as prescribed by departmental bylaws." It seems to me that the wire scheduled at 52 s. per ton for the manufacture of wire netting will, in most cases, be finer than the No. 16 gauge wire, the duty upon which we have fixed at 44s. per ton, and will be of a gauge for which we have fixed an ad valorem rate of 20 per cent. I believe that rabbit-proof netting is made largely from No. 17 and No. 18 gauge wire, and a good deal of wire net- ' ting is madefrom even finer gauges. Therefore, we have the anomaly that, in spite of large expenditure of capital at Newcastle by Ryland Brothers to establish an industry for drawing the whole of Australia's requirements of coarse and fine wires, other Australian wire netting manufacturers will be able to import No. 17, No. 18, No. l9 or even- finer gauges of Wife to make thoir netting under a rate of duty which was' only intended for fen- cing wire. In other words, the effective protection already given by the Committee' upon the finer wires will not operate on Wire for the- niahuf acture of wire netting,' and 'Ihe manufacturers of . this netting iwifl . be able to import their . raw material - at a cheaper rate than was intended. I know that wire netting has been made- in Sydney for a good many years . Without any assistance from a Tariff; butI would suggest^ in connexion with what has now become a very involved question,' that the Minister (Senator Bussell) should, in 'the interests of the wire netting, industry, postpone these items until further . consideration ban be given th'em. On the one hand, we have an appeal for a 20 percent, duty to establish' a new industry -of drawing wire at Newcastle; on the other hand, there is an item- in this Tariff specially, designed to enable . manufacturers of wire . netting to import' wire suitable for their require; merits' at a very low rate of duty. -The two things are. not compatible.

Senator Russell - I do, not think that tho honorable senator's ' suggestion is a cure for the trouble':We must reach -finality at some stage.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then will the Minister clearly indicate- what the Government want ?

Senator Russell - I have.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Boee it want the industry at. -Newcastle?

Senator Russell - Yes.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Doea it desire by means of a reasonable duty to stop all' importations of 'wire of any sort, including, wire for making netting I

Senator Russell - Yes.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Thesucceeding item provides that' wire for the manufacture of wire netting shall come in at alow duty. . The two propositions are. absolutely inconsistent and incompatible. If, however, the Minister can explain- more fully what is the real intention, of . the Government, and show that these..- two items do not clash in the matter of policy i the Committee will he satisfied.

Senator Russell - I recognise, the force of all the honorable senator has said; but wo can find out where we stand only when a vote has been taken on this, question. We' have had an indication that a request for a reduction is desired,- but we have had no vote on this particular question. The Government cannot anticipate' a defeat, and I am. not anticipating. a defeat on this item of wire netting.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It seems to me that even if the whole of the Government proposals are carried the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent, on the finer wires for the purpose of estabksbing the Newcastle industry , and the proposal to admit, at a lower rate of duty, these finer, wires when intended for use' in the manufacture) of barbed wire and wire netting must- clash.

Senator Lynch - Then propose a higher duty in respect of the latter item.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am inviting the Committee to consider the anomaly surrounding the whole of these duties on wire, and am asking' the Minister either to explain the position or postpone this item for further consideration.

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